Hunt trespass scandal
The Avondhu, 9 April 2013
Irish agriculture is reeling under the impact of events and activities that undermine its morale and viability. We have had the scandal of processors inserting questionable additives and horsemeat into burgers that ended up in Irish supermarkets.
This at a time so many horses in the country are neglected or abandoned, the often emaciated creatures having to be rescued from the direst conditions by animal rescue groups, with no ID Tags to trace the owners. The huge bill for their disposal is passed on to the taxpayer. Where is the justice in this?
One wonders what use are all the rules and regulations imposed on the Irish farmer relating to Safe Food, the keeping of which is a condition for CAP payments. Farmers have had some good news too: Recently two Kilkenny farmers, after years of being bullied by foxhunters, were awarded Eur30,500 in damages against a hunt official in Kilkenny Circuit Court. Norman and Hubert Daniels of Tullaroan, County Kilkenny have the gratitude of their neighbours, and commercial farmers nationwide. They have to be admired for their courage and determination, as they driven to desperation owing to the constant verbal abuse and damage to their farm property over the years. Had they not videotaped the hunt activities, they might never have achieved justice.
Hunts have caused extensive damage to farms nationwide, and the judiciary has not proven to be the farmers’ friend in many instances. The late judge, Frank Roe for example, dismissed numerous claims made by farmers for hunt-related damage. Another judge who happened to ride with a hunt himself dismissed a claim for the total destruction of a pedigree herd of Suffolk sheep. The damage cost the farmer in question £30,000. To this day he has not been compensated for his loss. The scandal and injustice of hunt trespass has to be face up to once and for all.
Breaking and entering and vandalising a person’s property is, in law, a criminal offence, perpetrated by criminals. The fact that they wear fancy costumes does not alter this legal reality. Let’s stamp out hunt-related crime. Hundreds of claims by farmers for damage caused by hunts are outstanding and there is no sign of the hunts paying up. Can TDs and senators be so deaf or blind as not to realise the importance of banning this destructive and pointless cruelty to farmers? They fail to legislate against foxhunting while horses, packs of hounds, and hunt followers (some riding quads) are rampaging across the countryside, wreaking havoc on legitimate farm enterprises as they knock fences, scatter livestock, churn up fields of crops and destroy productive farmland in the middle of winter?
Fox hunting displays a callous disregard for binding EU requirements and good farming practice. It is rightly banned in the UK, a country that relies far less on agriculture than we do. Dail Eireann must act to banish these pests from rural Ireland. True, there are some farmers who join hunts, but without exception these people will not damage their own land but they will ride roughshod over someone else’s. If the Tally-ho brigade were to switch to drag hunting they could lay false trails for the hounds to follow, thus avoiding trespass and damage to farms. They could make that change at any time. Unfortunately they prefer what they call “that essential element of unpredictability” as one hunt master described it. An outright ban therefore will be required to end this rural vandalism.
Philip P Lynch, Chairman,
Farmers Against Foxhunting and Trespass,
Gleann an Ri, Mallardstown, Callan, Co Kilkenny.